City Hall opened as usual Monday but Mayor Bob Filner was nowhere to be found, still out of public view as he tries to survive a recall effort prompted by a cascade of sexual harassment allegations that led the entire City Council and many leading fellow Democrats to call for him to resign.
City Council President Todd Gloria said he didn't know if Filner would make a public appearance on Monday, the day the mayor promised to return to work after receiving two weeks of therapy to address behavioral issues.
Filner is not obligated to show up but owes the people of San Diego an explanation of his whereabouts, Gloria said. The city's daily operations have been running fine without Filner, he said, and should the mayor appear it could make female employees uncomfortable.
"Those of us who have called on the mayor to resign know he is not being effective at this time," Gloria said. "The mayor's presence is a distraction."
According to San Diego's 10News, Filner's attorneys were in a mediation session Monday morning with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing some of the women who claim they were sexually harassed by the mayor. The station reported that the lawyers were negotiating a deal that could lead to Filner's resignation.
While the mayor wasn't at City Hall Monday, about 80 of Filner's backers supporters held a rally there to defend the mayor, saying he deserves due process.
"He's far more than sloppy kisses. You should acknowledge due process," said former Assembly candidate Maxine Sherard, one of several women who spoke in support of Filner, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
More than a dozen women, including a university dean and a retired Navy rear admiral, have gone public with sexual harassment accusations against Filner. Some contend he cornered, groped and forcibly kissed them.
The accusations have prompted an avalanche of calls for Filner to resign and a recall effort that started Sunday. Filner's opponents will have to gather more than 100,000 signatures from registered city voters in 39 days to trigger a recall election.
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer are among a slew of California politicians who have called on the fellow Democrat to step down.
Filner has acknowledged that his behavior was unacceptable but has not termed it sexual harassment.
Filner, a feisty liberal who served 10 terms in Congress before being elected mayor last November - has long had a reputation for berating employees and has been dogged by rumors of inappropriate behavior toward women. But nothing in his past approaches what has surfaced in the last six weeks.
Before going into therapy, Filner asked voters to be patient while he gets help.
"Before I even think of asking for forgiveness, I must demonstrate that my behavior has changed. And that will only happen over time and only if such incidents never, ever happen again," Filner said.
He vowed when he returned that his "focus will be on making sure that I am doing right by the city in terms of being the best mayor I can be, and the best person I must be."
Filner has agreed not to meet with women alone on city business and has delegated broad authority to a new interim chief operating officer, Walt Ekard, a highly regarded former county administrator.